The Wild Horse Redemption

Documentarian John Zaritsky takes aud to a prison facility at the base of the Colorado Rockies to sympathetically focus on the Wild Horse Inmate Program.

Enjoyably uplifting and attractively packaged, “The Wild Horse Redemption” might make a modestly profitable trot through theatrical corrals before long-term grazing in cable and homevid pastures. Oscar-winning documentarian John Zaritsky (“Just Another Missing Kid”) takes auds to a prison facility at the base of the Colorado Rockies to sympathetically focus on the Wild Horse Inmate Program, an unusual rehabilitation project designed to transform hardened criminals into sensitive “horse whispers” capable of saddle-training untamed mustangs. Pic offers an engrossing view of wild creatures bringing out the best in each other, and could very well inspire a dramatic feature spinoff.

Inspired by the reportage of Alison Griffiths and David Cruise, Zaritsky and co-scripter Bob McKeown shrewdly structure their material so that three “stars” gradually emerge: Anthony, a soon-to-be-paroled inmate trainer eager to use his skills in the outside world; Jon, Anthony’s replacement, who faces his first major challenge with an uncooperative mustang; and Clay, a neophyte who’s every bit as skittish as the horse he’s attempting to tame. Some comments by prison staffers supervising the program sound rehearsed. But that takes nothing away from the pic’s overall effectiveness.

The Wild Horse Redemption

Canada

Production: A Point Grey Pictures production in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the National Film Board of Canada. Produced by Terence McKeown. Executive producers, John Zaritsky, Terence McKeown. Directed by John Zaritsky. Written by Zaritsky, Bob McKeown, based on the magazine article "90 Day Horses" by Alison Griffiths, David Cruise.

Crew: Camera (color), Ian Kerr, John Collins; editor, Tanya Maryniak; sound, Patrick Brereton; associate producer, Mark Mauchline. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 8, 2007. Running time: 91 MIN.

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